To the Editor:
I don't think Sen. Allen should have apologized to blacks for displaying the Confederate flag. It is a part of history. The Civil War was not over slavery. It was over states' rights . Approximately 5 percent of the South, the plantation owners, had slaves. They were in the states where cotton grew. Why would the rest of the South fight a war when they owned no slaves?
Blacks perceiving the flag as offensive is wrong. Why shouldn't there be a Confederate History Month in Virginia? Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were two of the best generals the country ever produced. Lincoln offered Lee the position of commander-in-chief of the Union forces.
Blacks have Black History Month and nobody complains.
Bless your lil' heart, you are so misguided!
Honey, if you're gonna capitalize "Confederate" and "South" you have to capitalize "Blacks" too. Otherwise it looks like you might be (whispered) a racist.
More importantly, Senator Allen has a lot to apologize for regarding race issues alone. Recognizing that symbols mean different things to different people and expressing regret for flying the Confederate flag is a good start. More meaningful, of course, would be an apology for decorating his law office with a noose slung casually over the branch of a tree.
The Confederate flag is certainly, as you said, a part of our country's history and is therefore worth studying. However, there is a vast difference between studying the flag as a symbol of past injustices to be avoided, and in glorifying -- as Allen does -- the history of racism and oppression that flag represents.
I can appreciate your assertion that the Civil War was fought over states' rights and not over slavery. Having been schooled in the cradle of the Confederacy, I once worshipped at that same altar myself. However, even an amateur student of History can tell you that the right the Confederate states were fighting for was the right to own slaves.
Slavery was why the Northern and Southern states struck compromise after compromise throughout the early 1800s (Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act, etc.) to maintain a balance of slave and free states in Congress, and slavery was the primary reason the Confederate states seceded from the Union upon Lincoln's election in 1860. Despite his repeated assurances to the contrary and his well-publicized position that Blacks were inferior to Whites, Southerners feared that Lincoln intended to abolish slavery and that he therefore posed a threat to the Southern way of life.
As to the percentage of Southerners who owned slaves, historian Kenneth M. Stampp -- an expert on the institution of slavery -- tells us that roughly 25% -- not 5% -- of the Southern population owned slaves:
Not only was the "typical" slaveholder not a planter, but the "typical" planter worked only a moderate-sized gang of from twenty to fifty slaves. . . .The extremely wealthy families who owned more than a hundred slaves numbered less than three thousand, a tiny fraction of the southern population.Like maybe 5%?
And I'll let Stampp answer your question, "Why would the rest of the South fight when they owned no slaves?" since he goes on to explain that even non-slaveowners had a stake in preserving what he calls "the peculiar institution."
If the direct ownership of slave property had been the only way in which Southerners had become personally involved in the slave system, relatively few of them would have had an interest in preserving it. . . .For the nearly three-fourths of the southern whites who owned no slaves it provided less tangible things: a means of controlling the social and economic competition of Negroes, concrete evidence of membership in a superior caste, a chance perhaps to rise into the planter class. Whatever the reason, most of the nonslaveholders seemed to feel that their interest required them to defend their peculiar institution.Not to mention the fact that wealthy plantation owners drafted into the Confederate army could pay others to fight in their stead.
There shouldn't be a Confederate History Month in Virginia for the same reason there shouldn't be a Nazi History Month in Germany or a Taliban History Month in Afghanistan. Because while setting aside months to recognize and learn from past atrocities is valuable, glorifying those atrocites in the name of heritage and pretending they're not atrocious is shameful.
Oh, and PS: Stonewall Jackson, despite being shot by his own men and thereby displaying a certain amount of ineptitude, is hot. That beard. . .those eyes. . .so dreamy.
I'm sorry. Really. I went on and on about how bad the actual Confederacy is, but you just can't cure me of my love for certain Confederate generals. Namely Lee and Jackson. And Longstreet. Poor poor Longstreet.
You know who sucks though? JEB Stuart. Absolutely fucking sucks.